Government hacking is a practice that may involve malicious code and the use of vulnerabilities in systems to obtain information desired by authorities. The legal uncertainty regarding spyware tools used to achieve this goal, however, are of particular concern to civil society as contracts between companies and public authorities related to these surveillance tools continue with little or no oversight. Given this scenario, the main objectives of this project are to

(1) develop a public database with information related to government hacking;

(2) investigate the efficiency of current legal measures in place in selected countries and regions for the purchase and introduction of spyware technology for intelligence and security matters and

(3) identify necessary reforms to spyware/dual-use trade controls on a national level, in the EU and international instruments (such as the Wassenaar Agreement) and raise public awareness of the matter.

To date, neither the domestic legal frameworks governing the import and deployment of these technologies nor the industry's self-regulation are effectively preventing or addressing the abuses or issues reported. Therefore, it is expected that this project results in a clear set of standards and guidelines related to the use, export and import of these technologies that involve government transparency and cooperation with stakeholders from civil society, the scientific community and the private sector.

The project is realised as part of the German Chancellor Fellowship for tomorrow's leaders of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.